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Scoggins: Time for Williams Arena teardown? Tuesday told us no.

The dusty and cramped old Barn felt alive for a night, awoken from its slumber. Not fully awake. Too many seats remain unoccupied to understand completely why longtime Williams Arena lovers cling to it with such reverence and romanticism.

Tuesday night provided a glimpse of it though, a snapshot of what it used to be and still can be — and, boy, was it fun.

Williams Arena became a home-court advantage again, boisterous and disruptive in a way that played a factor in the Gophers' 59-56 win over Michigan State.

Big games have been too infrequent for the men's program for too many seasons, but this one qualified as a big game and Ben Johnson's team and the Barn rose to the occasion.

The student section was packed from front to back, aided by a jersey giveaway, which was a smart promotion because those young folks had a blast and made a difference with their voices.

The energy and noise that reverberated throughout that quirky, nearly century-old arena hit different, as kids like to say.

But then check the announced attendance: 8,239, or 56% of the Barn's capacity. You begin to understand the old-timers' nostalgia for what it felt and sounded like back when they crammed people in there to the rafters and the building shook from noise. Those poor eardrums.

Memo to AD Mark Coyle: Slash prices in the upper deck. Make tickets dirt cheap. Tickets in the 200-level ranged from $35 to $105 on the athletic department's website four hours before tipoff.

The Gophers are now fourth in the Big Ten standings and 13th in attendance. They are on pace to record their lowest attendance in 50-plus years. The school should do everything possible to entice fans to return.

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The department is in the business of generating revenue, but getting something is better than nothing. If the Barn becomes a madhouse again and games feel like special events, season-ticket holders won't care what the family sitting two rows away paid for its tickets.

There might not be a more polarizing inanimate object in Minnesota than the Barn — except, perhaps, the new state flag.

Some embrace Williams Arena like an heirloom. Others consider it an Edsel in the era of Tesla, with the charm of foot fungus.

The school has hired an architectural firm to explore renovation or possibly building a new arena. This can be their version of HGTV's "Love It or List It."

Conversations with pro-Barn fans typically include an addendum. They'll say, "the Barn is the best sports venue in the Twin Cities … when it's rocking."

When it is rocking.

That has been the problem. It hasn't rocked consistently — really rocked — since Clem Haskins patrolled the raised floor. All the coaches after Clem had moments, big games, even stretches of prosperity, but not at the level that made the Barn so beloved and a hot ticket in town.

The Barn's age and lack of modern conveniences become inflamed when the product on the court isn't successful. It's easier to stare at the warts. Or just stop going altogether.

The atmosphere inside Williams Arena has been largely sad in recent years, but I don't believe the Barn itself has impacted recruiting. Here are what recruits prioritize: Playing time, winning, development toward the NBA, coaching, NIL, academics. Gophers players practice and get extra shooting in their state-of-the-art practice facility. That upgrade was critical.

The feasibility report shouldn't include surprises. The Barn needs to be modernized to make it more fan-friendly. But the old place felt uniquely Minnesota's on Tuesday because the team on the court was winning, scrappy, entertaining and creating optimism again. Funny how that works.

Johnson and his players understand their part in this equation. Senior forward Parker Fox, the human energizer, laid it out perfectly.

"Basketball is a pretty important thing in the state of Minnesota," he said. "I'm hoping we can continue to get more fans in the crowd because I think the Barn is one of the most special places in college basketball, especially when the crowd is behind it."

I've long felt envious when people reminisce about the Barn's magic from yesteryear, and I've wondered if it will ever return. Tuesday's game showed that the 96-year-old venue can still throw a punch. I'll bring earplugs if it ever fills to the top again.